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Wal-Mart, insurers settle lawsuits over 2014 Tracy Morgan crash

TRENTON, N.J. (Reuters) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has settled a lawsuit by two insurers that sought to avoid covering its multi-million dollar payout to comedian Tracy Morgan for injuries he suffered in a 2014 crash involving one of the retailer’s trucks.

Actor Tracy Morgan attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles, California September 20, 2015. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton, New Jersey, on Monday ordered the dismissal of all claims against Wal-Mart by Ohio Casualty Insurance and Liberty Insurance Underwriters, and all counterclaims by Wal-Mart against the insurers.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, and both sides agreed not to bring their claims again.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter,” Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an email.

The accord came 2-1/2 months after the insurers, both affiliated with Liberty Mutual Group, had sought permission to question Morgan and another injured passenger, Ardley Fuqua, to help them determine whether Wal-Mart paid too much.

Lawyers for the insurers and Boston-based Liberty Mutual did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Morgan and Fuqua referred a reporter to an outside spokesman, who had no immediate comment.

Morgan, a former star of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, was seriously injured on June 7, 2014 when a Wal-Mart truck crashed into his limousine van on the New Jersey Turnpike.

His friend, comedian James McNair, was killed in the crash, and other passengers also suffered injuries.

The truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours when the crash occurred. He pleaded guilty last November to vehicular homicide under a plea agreement that let him avoid prison time, according to published reports.

Wal-Mart’s payouts to Morgan and Fuqua have not been disclosed, but court documents suggest that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer might have paid more than $90 million.

That was based on a reported $10 million settlement that Wal-Mart reached in early 2015 with McNair’s children, and subsequent court papers saying that more than 90 percent of Wal-Mart’s total payout were for Morgan’s and Fuqua’s claims.

Morgan suffered a broken leg and ribs and what his lawyer has called a “traumatic brain injury” in the crash. He has since returned to performing.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

 

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Wal-Mart, insurers settle lawsuits over 2014 Tracy Morgan crash